HITS Daily Double
Attendees are once again being wooed by the labels with what look to be huge fourth quarter releases. Will they be enough to save the year?


Big Four Presentations Inspire Visions of a Thrilling Fourth Quarter Comeback
As the latest wacky and wonderful edition of NARM comes to a close, with a dearth of breaking news, most of the talk at the confab has been about the convention itself. As people from both coasts have come to embrace San Diego as an ongoing site, conventioneers are grumbling loudly about the plans to hold the event in Orlando next year. Although the thought of traveling to Florida in August has pleased few if any of NARM's constituents, President Jim Donio believes that once people see the new property, they will change their minds. The decision to move it to Chicago in '07, on the other hand (and switching the convention back to the spring), has gotten a thumbs-up from most everyone.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that record sales could be better—on the year, they’re down right now around 8%—but the attendees are once again being wooed by the labels with what look to be huge fourth quarter releases. Will they be enough to save the year? Retailers are cautiously optimistic that they might at least soften the blow.

Exclusives have obviously been a sore subject for some time, and the fact that a vintage Bob Dylan bootleg is going to Starbucks hasn't soothed anyone's ire, while word that a Garth Brooks release could be given exclusively to Wal-Mart has raised hackles as well. That said, few believe exclusives are going away any time soon.

The live music at the convention has gotten generally high marks this year, with two standouts. Blue Note's Raul Midon wowed the crowd at EMI's Saturday night showcase (also featuring great sets from Liz Phair and Charlie Sexton), and Sugar Hill's Nickel Creek played a transcendent set at the opening session.

The Sunday night awards dinner also went well, with Rod Stewart providing the entertainment. The event featured one of the best video reels in memory, put together by Sony BMG. It began with a sound bite from John Phillip Souza of the first commercial recording ever made for Columbia Records in 1890, and included truck-load of vintage clips from the likes of Elvis, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Janis Joplin, Sly & the Family Stone, the Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Mahalia Jackson and Frank Sinatra. It was a dazzling piece.

Retailer of the year awards went to Twist & Shout in the Small division, Waterloo Records in the Medium division and Tower Records in the Large division.

Wholesaler of the Year awards went to Electric Fetus in the Small division, Baker & Taylor in the Medium division, and Alliance One-Stop Group in the Large division.

Distributor of the Year went to Redeye small division, RED Distribution Medium division, and EMI Marketing Group in the Large division.

And lastly, the Entertainment Software Supplier of the Year went to Rykodisc Small division, the Verve Music Group Medium division, and Rhino Entertainment in the Large division.

Early in the evening, the hotel was buzzing about the news that the winners of the awards had already been posted on the Velvet Rope. But the winners posted turned out to be mostly incorrect.